NFP Leader tells Government: Share the Money
Friday 15th May 2020
The National Federation Party says Government must immediately create a Workers Solidarity Fund from the $18 million aid provided by the Australian Government and provide immediate help our thousands of unemployed workers and their families.
Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad said it must be noted that the Australian aid is specially for COVID-19 assistance and right now the most vulnerable are the workers, particularly in the tourism and related sectors.
He said Government must keep pumping the Solidarity Fund from all savings accumulated through 5% reduction in Fiji National Provident Fund employer contribution from the already budgeted civil service allocation.
“The Party has been inundated with calls by workers and their families requesting us to highlight their plight and our own survey has shown the workers and their families are the hardest hit”.
“The workers need immediate assistance as they have exhausted either $500 or $1,000 that they withdrew from their Fiji National Provident Fund Account”.
“We see that in the 2019-20 Budget Estimate around $1.04 billion has been allocated for civil service salaries and wages. A 5% reduction in FNPF contribution means government will annually save $52 million”.
“This equates to savings of $4.33 million per month. So already government has saved $4.33 million for the month of April and by the end of May will have accumulated savings of $8.66 million”.
“This savings should be disbursed to the workers because it is the workers money. It should not be used to fund operational or any other expenditure of government”.
“We see that countries whose economies and GDP are much smaller than Fiji’s, are directly assisting workers. For example, Vanuatu with a GDP of around $2billion is assisting employees through stabilisation payments as part of its COVID-19 stimulus package”.
“Fiji has a GDP of over $11.4 billion but Government is asking unemployed workers to uplift their own FNPF Funds and has decided in respect of tourism sector workers to only top the FNPF withdrawal by $500”.
“Government knows very well that 69% or over 303,000 of FNPF members have balances of less than $10,000 in their Fund Account. They wouldn’t even have replenished it after withdrawing $1000 following Severe TC Winston in 2016”.
“It is absolutely necessary that Government looks after the most vulnerable. It has the means to do so. Any kind and caring government’s responsibility is to cushion the impacts of any crisis on its citizens”.
“Direct assistance to workers and families affected by the crisis will also help generate economic activities and help businesses keep afloat”.
“Furthermore, government must keep informing the people on the amount of funds accumulated in the COVID-19 special account for the sake of transparency and accountability”.
Authorised by: -
Professor Biman Prasad Leader